There was a lump of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and turnip greens sitting in the bottom of my stomach. It felt as though it weighed more than the bass on the end of my line. I had eaten less than 30 minutes ago. It was just exactly 100 degrees in the front of Bubba Chandler’s, deep breathing boat. Unfortunately, that is where I was standing.
Wilson Post Blogs
It leaves the plateau. Not in a rush or even a long, slow glide as the interstate highway does. It leaves in little jerks, jumps, and twitches, as a deer would leave the plateau. Later it begins to glide as it winds through the hills.
On sunny days, as the sun tops the rim and tendrils of smoky sunlight filter through the hardwood leaves and glance off the water, it winks and smiles. It seems as though it is always looking back at you and watching as you sight it through the trees. It talks to you.
I promised I wouldn’t put this in a column. But I’m going to anyway because I need a column for this week and I stay way away from water on holidays. I believe you will agree this beats a wrap up of some fishing tournament or one of the TWRA canned releases. This sounds like something I would do back when I was drinking.
Usually about this time of year, I am asked, if I have ever killed a buck still in velvet. Of course, that refers to the soft covering on the antlers now readily visible. In fact, I have killed two, both quite small. That question is usually followed by, “Where is the best place to kill one?”
To answer that, you have to break it down into two categories. Do you want to kill a big one in relative comfort or do you want to just kill any buck and endure the biting insects. Let us go with big ones in relative comfort first.
Hot weather, cold weather, clear water, stained water, I don’t care. The fluke can produce when other baits do not and they will catch an amazing variety of fish species. The fluke is a specially designed type of soft plastic worm. There is a variety of ways to fish it. I prefer just a four or five-ought hook and no weight.
The fluke can be used in shallow or deep water and when properly rigged is about as weedless as you can get a lure. It is primarily a bass and stripers (rockfish) lure. The fluke is simple to fish. Just cast, let settle, twitch and let settle again. Being so weedless, they are superb for fishing in heavy cover. My favorite tactic is to cast into shallow water and let settle until out of sight, then twitch it and bring it back to the surface and repeat. Most of the strikes come just as it settles out of sight. Often in shallow water, when fish are feeding tight on the bank, the strike comes the minute the fluke hits the water.
It is cold and the jack pine fire in the small stove is finally heating the tent/cabin. The structure is composed of a tent top on a plywood frame.
Six of us sleep here. Some of them snore. However, it is almost dawn and cold or not, I have to get up. I heard the generator start 30-minutes ago so I know there is hot water for a shower. Shivering in the dawn, I half-run the 30-feet to the hot shower. It is late August and I am back on the Taiga.
The fog lays close on the water. You can barely see the far bank. The temperature is at the edge between cool and cold…55-degrees. To fill time while I wait for Mark Campbell to park the truck, I make a cast.
Two turns of the reel handle and the lure is smashed. I put five on the bank before Big Bird gets back. They are all stocker browns about 10-inches long. What happened to the rainbows? The Caney Fork changes.
It winds down the draws and hollers and through the fields for 99 miles. One more mile and it would be a river, so they tell me. I have no idea if that is true. I do know it is full of fish and some big smallmouth. It is floated, camped on, waded and at one time, so they tell me, it was famous for spearing suckers. Before that, the Indians used it as a highway. I have no idea if that is true.
The Smith Fork.
It was coming.
Smothering, roasting, oppressive heat and humidity. But not just yet.
Rose streaks just beginning to show in the east. It is cool now, less than 90 but not much. Birds are starting to lift off the rookery. I have no idea where they are going. The fish are probably sweating. I know I am and I am sure Alan Clemmons is, too. Alan use to do something with some major bass tournaments. Now he is an editor for a big, deer-hunting magazine. He knows how to fish, too. He takes it too seriously but that is his business. He fishes a lot with heavy jigs and crankbaits. That too, is his business. I’m just here to fish.
Where did it go, the sun?
All week it has been sunny and beautiful, perfect for bear hunting and running baits and hanging stands. When we took the boat into Bear Lake fishing, it was sunny and 70. When we chopped the ATV trail through the brush, it was Sunny and 65. When we set the barrel and spread the grease, it was hot and the bears hit immediately and ravaged the bait site. I have never seen a bait site hit that hard, that quickly. When we hung the camera stand, it was fantastic and when Gary climbed into the stand it, it was perfect.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
They had many names when I was growing up. We called them specs, short for speckled perch. Bream perch and chinquapins and shell crackers were bluegill in some areas. The names just varied depending on what variety of perch we were catching. What I am referring to are fish we call crappie and bluegills here. Over most of the South, they are just referred to as perch.
Now you talk about fun to catch, mister, I mean to tell you they are. Dave Thornhill called me a few days ago and the talk reminded me of how much fun I use to have catching bluegill on Center Hill. The method I used was dissimilar to the way he catches bluegill.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
A few weeks ago, I was asked to write another column of nostalgic fiction. The person commented on how much “Sharp as a Memory”, jogged his memory. It has taken until this week to get the story “sitiated” in my head and transmitted to my fingers. This is partially fiction, partially fact. You may decide which is which.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
We have had several of them, those hot spring days when things are all green and the sun gets hot about 10:30. The bass, you figure, should have moved up from the deep water. So you start in tight with a white fluke and a Pop-R. Not much. The sun is just filtering through the trees in the back of the first creek. Somewhere, a turkey gobbles. Where was he yesterday when we had a gun in hand?
We change to a GitZit on a 1/8 ounce head. Nothing. They do not want the spinner bait or worm.
Frustration is starting to set in and you tell Big Bird maybe we should have gone turkey hunting. Only one option left. I hate it. I hate throwing them and I really hate retrieving one. However, they do catch fish, crankbaits. They catch fish when nothing else works.
I have not killed a turkey, only went for a few minutes one time. So, I will tell you this story.
Haunted? -- I guess just about anything can be haunted. Usually, when you think of haunted, you think of a house. But I know a lake that is haunted. I can’t tell you where it is, I am sworn to secrecy. However, it is haunted. I can tell you the story just way it came about. See, the thing is, for some reason, I seem to be attracted to places that have, I guess you say, strange occurrences-lakes, houses, canyons etc. Maybe I attract the unusual. This is about a lake, perhaps a haunted lake. Some call it Nock-e-nut. I have never known why.
It is full of crappie and bream and bass, this haunted lake stuck on an island in the middle of a swamp. It is hard to get to, as are most lakes with large fish populations. The island is several hundred acres in size, the lake in the middle, maybe 100-acres. I have fished the lake several times. It is a favorite spring lake for crappie or specs as they are called down there. I went some years ago, went just for the bass fishing. It was planned we would fish Mound Bayou, Saline and maybe Little Larto. Instead, we went to the haunted lake. Here is how it came about.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Don’t be misled. I can if I want to. Some, upon hearing of my lack of burning desire to turkey hunt may think I don’t know how. In fact, I do. I’m no expert like Wade Bourne or my good friends Alex Rutledge or Eddie Salter. I’m certainly not as good as Carroll, “Big Daddy” Whitener but I know how to kill a gobbler if I want to. The season opened four days ago.
It is hard to get a lot of passion up when you can’t get in your driveway because it is blocked by wild turkeys. When your backyard is full of birds with beards, sitting in the dark waiting for one gobble while still in the tree doesn’t hold much allure. As your truck gets white highlights from the hen sitting on the branch over your driveway, the urge to kill may be high but the desire to hunt is not.
But I can kill a turkey if I want to.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Jack Taylor knows where it was. Russ Jackson knew it well. Joyce Jackson hated it because it was “spooky”. I spent a lot of time there, caught many fish, and killed many deer, made many memories. It is gone now, crowded with houses. Probably the UFO’s are gone.
This is the story of two of us, camped back in the hardwoods of Humphries County in a clearing we created with constant use over a few years. We camped this time for four days, Uncle Lester and me and we had great meals and the best campfires ever. Oh, we caught a lot of fish, too.
Next week we have to start chasing gobblers. For now, let us think about old men camped on hidden lakes. Let us think about just enjoying nature and not worrying about full stringers and such.
I am sure someone has started doing it, scouting for turkeys. It is about that time. I do not know much about turkey hunting. I think I have gone three times in the past five years. Of course, I was sick during most of that time and didn’t hunt anything much. I do know I never scout for them. However, some say scouting is as important in turkey hunting as it is in deer hunting. I guess it is if you don’t see them almost daily or are serious about killing one. I am not.
My standard method of hunting is just to go where I have been seeing them regularly and wait for them to come by.
Most mornings, just about seven or seven-thirty, I see one or two big longbeards on the edge of a pasture near here. When the Music City Star blows the horn, most mornings I hear three or four gobble across the street. I have permission to hunt both places. If I go opening morning, I will probably just sit in front of a big maple I know about and wait for them to head for the pasture. However, I have been turkey scouting in the past.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
I did my post season scouting in December and January. I only needed two new stand sites. The first one was easy and I fully expect to kill more than one deer there. I knew where that stand was going in November.
The second location was not locked in to my full satisfaction. I knew the general area but not the exact tree. I figured I would just wait until I was ready to put the stand up and make a decision. The exact tree is as important as general location.
So comes that nice, warm, shirt-sleeve day 26 days ago. Partly cloudy and 65-degrees. Perfect for assembling and putting up two new ladder stands. I bought a couple at Dicks, back when they had the sale. I enlisted Mark Campbell, aka Big Bird to bring his muscles and all the equipment and help me. Although those ladder stands look simple to assemble, I always have parts and screws left over. Away we went.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Guy called me and tipped me off to this. I thought I would share it with you. See, to me it seems like it happens just about every year. Some legislator with an axe to grind sponsors a bill or four that are just plain stupid and are for the soul purpose of self-something. By that, I mean they only serve his sense of self.
Here, let me give you an example. How about a bill that would make it possible for my neighbor or me to pull out of our driveway and hit a deer or an opossum on Palmer Road or Highway 70 and TWRA gets a bill for having it removed? Said deer lays there a day and the city comes and picks up the carcass. The city could then bill TWRA for that service as if it was TWRA’s fault or TWRA owned the animal.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Why must such a great tasting fish insist on biting best when it is cold enough to freeze the balls stacked around the canon at the Civil War museum? (Forgive the long sentence). Why must the wind always be blowing strong enough to jerk the words out of your mouth? Why must you stand there shaking like Wobble Gear Delong in an earthquake? Why is February such a good month for marble eyes?
I have no answer to the above questions but I wrote them just to set the tenor of this article. You may have guessed it is about walleye (sauger, saugeye) fishing. That of course is something about which I know pitifully little. In fact, I know less about it that Larry Woody. That is just about nothing. One thing I do know. I aint jigging no minner on a heavy jig up and down in 20-degree weather till my arm falls off. However, I tend to catch my share and then some, most of them weighing four pounds. I have no explanation for it just as I cannot explain how the Reflector keeps from sun burning his head. Here is an example.
The forecast is for a high for of 29. Twenty-nine, to me, is not high. Winds predicted to be from the north at 10, gusting to 20. Central Hill will be white capping like a wave on a milk bucket. Of course, we went Nashville’s Bob Julian and me. According to him, it would be perfect for walleye fishing.